Introduction: Inflatable Love Seat
An inflatable shrine to my girlfriend. It was the tackiest and softest thing I could think of making. It would make a fine addition to anyone's home
Step 1: Go Get Stuff.
- 9 yards of 62" wide canvas
- 6 yards of 60" wide material of choice for cover background (something soft, something cheap)
- 2 yards of 60" wide material for cover pattern
- a spool of thread (to match cover pattern fabric)
- 1 pair of swimmies or inflatable raft
- 1 gallon liquid latex (Clear #10)
- 1 container of baby powder
- 1 container of rubbing alcohol
- a bar of Dove soap or similar (bacon soap is tempting but not recommended)
- 1 tube of Victor rubber cement (available at Ace Hardware)
- 2 rubber gloves
- 1 pad of tracing paper
- 1 industrial sewing machine
- 2 boxes of sewing machine needles (for denim)
- 1 box of pins
- 1 pencil
- 1 tape measure
- 1 pair of scissors
- 1 roll of masking tape
- 1 computer with Photoshop (or similar)
- 1 printer
- 2 one and half inch paintbrushes
- 3 plastic containers (1 sealable and 1 capable of holding a bar of soap)
- 1 sewing needle
- 1 roll of paper towels
- 1 outfit you don't like (for painting latex)
(Note that some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This does not change the cost of the item for you. I reinvest whatever proceeds I receive into making new projects. If you would like any suggestions for alternative suppliers, please let me know.)
Step 2: Create the Cover.
Albeit it is cool to make an inflatable chair, ultimately the cover is the most important part because it is the thing people will look at and judge your work by. A good cover will justify whatever monstrosity it was designed to hide.
On account of its importance and realizing that this is the most time intensive part of the process I made the cover first, even though it is the last thing you will actually need when finally assembling the chair.
For detailed instructions on how to make the cover see the Digital Image to Personalized Fabric Cover instructable.
Step 3: Create the Plain Heart Pattern
Download the attached file below, tape it together and then cut out the heart along the border until you are left with one large paper heart pattern.
Step 4: Trace Your Hearts Out.
Trace out the two canvas hearts using your large rasterbated heart as a guide. If you angle the heart correctly you can use less canvas to do this (see secondary image). But make sure when you place your two hearts that you leave enough distance between them so that each can have an additional two inch border.
With that said, when you are done tracing the hearts, trace a two inch border around them. An easy way to do this is to get a ruler, place a pencil at the two inch mark and trace around the heart with the ruler along the heart's edge.
Step 5: Cut Your Hearts Out.
Cut out the canvas hearts out along the 2" border you just drew.
Step 6: Cut Out the Rest of the Canvas Frame.
Cut out one 22" x 216" canvas strip or three 22" x 72" strips. If you decided to use three strips, one will be too long and you may need to trim it shorter. However, you won't cut the excess fabric off until after you sew the strips around the perimeter of one of the hearts. Therefore, don't bother worrying about it for now.
Step 7: Cut Out Your Valve.
Go get a swimmie and cut it in half along the seam so that you are left with a tube that is open on both ends. Once you have this tube, cut it in half in the opposite direction of which you just cut. But make sure you cut along the opposite from the valve.
Trim the fabric around the valve so that you have about a 4" to 5" square.
Step 8: Attach the Valve to the Canvas Strip.
Pick one of the three canvas strips and cut a round hole the size of the diameter of the valve. Line the valve up with the hole, but don't pin the fabric into place. The swimmie fabric must remain as air-proof as possible.
Speaking of making things as airtight as possible, now would be time to seal the part of the fabric that you are going to attach the swimmie to. Trace the outline of the cut swimmie onto the part of the fabric that will later become the inside of the inflatable heart. Over this outline paint two coats of latex to help in making this canvas frame airtight. For instructions on painting with liquid latex see the Coating Fabric with Liquid Latex instructable.
Sew a series of rings around the valve from smaller to larger (see picture).
Step 9: Mark the Canvas for Handles.
Once the valve is attached, you are going to want to revisit the hearts so that you can attach handles to them. With masking tape make identical markings on each heart in a manner that they are laid out rather evenly over the course of the heart (for an example see secondary image).
Once all your markings are made, take the tape measure and readjust all your tape markings so that both hearts match as precisely as possible.
Step 10: Attach the Handles.
First off, now would be a good time to cut out canvas handles. You should need one handle for each piece of tape you just placed on the heart. The canvas handles should be 1 inch by 6 inches.
Once the handles are cut and the tape is well-positioned, remove each piece one by one. As you remove each one, draw a line in pencil where the tape used to be. This is going to be where you will later attach the handle so make sure that all the lines are going in the same direction on both hearts.
Now that you have these lines, the next step would be to paint over them with two coats of liquid latex to make an airtight seal. This is done so that when the handles are sewn on you won't need to worry so much about properly sealing the canvas frame. Don't forget to coat the latex in baby powder when you are done.
With that said, once the latex is dry and coated, the next thing to do would be to lay out the canvas handles one by one over the pencil lines still visible through the latex. Sew the handle to the canvas frame 1" over on each side. Next fold the two loose inches of handle fabric over on themselves and sew something resembling a box with an "X" in it to reinforce the handles (see secondary image).
Step 11: Prepare and Sew the Canvas Frame.
Alright, now is time to prepare the canvas inflation tube for sewing.
First pin the 22" x 216" canvas strip (or equivalent) flatly around the edge of the heart that doesn't have handles on it. Also! Make sure that the part of the valve that you blow into is laying flatly on top of the part of the canvas heart that doesn't have handles. Sew one inch in from the border around the edge of the heart. Once it is sewn, lift the strip up and see if it looks three-dimensional with the handles and the part of the valve you don't blow into on the outside (see secondary image).
If you checked the secondary image you will notice that the strip attached all the way around the border of the heart is not closed on each end. Lay the ends of the strip flatly together and sew them in a manner so that the excess fabric of both ends is facing outwards. Cut any extra fabric that extends more than one inch away from the seam.
The last step now is to repeat sewing the other heart to the canvas border in the same manner as the first. The only difference this time is to not sew completely around the heart. Leave an open gap of about one foot (or large enough to pass your arm through). And don't forget to make sure that the handles are facing towards the outside of the heart frame.
Step 12: Reinforce the Seam.
Reinforcing the seams is extremely important in keeping the inflatable heart from popping. The best way to reinforce the seam is to fold it over on top of itself and then fold that over once more (see secondary diagram courtesy of my friend Winnie). Once it is folded three times, sew the seam down once more. With your machine, sew it very slowly and carefully along each seam being mindful not to break the needle as it will be going through thick fabric.
Step 13: Prepare and Attach Spout.
Make a canvas spout that is one foot long and a little over twice as wide as the hole left in the inflatable canvas frame. Fold this piece of canvas in half so that it is only a little wider than the hole left in the inflatable frame. Sew the canvas sheet together, leaving about 1/4" of extra fabric.
Pull this sheet of fabric inside out, so that the stitching is on the inside. Pull the sheet flat and cut one inch into the fold and cut another inch into the seam.
Your spout should have two one-inch flaps on each end. Pin one flap to one side of the hole in the large canvas frame and sew it (see picture). Repeat the step with the other side. Reinforcing the stitching may or may not be necessary.
Step 14: Get Ready for Some Major Latex.
Prepare yourself for some major latex action. Put on the outfit you don't mind ruining. Lay down a large clean plastic sheet. Make sure that all preparations are made as necessary.
Step 15: Paint on the Latex.
Paint on the latex as shown here.
The best tactic for laying an even coat of latex would be to lay the heart flat and paint one side of the inflatable heart frame at a time. I used four coats of latex on each side and that seemed to be more than enough. Remember when painting the heart-shaped pieces of canvas to paint over the stitching but not to paint over the handles. They need to be able to be lifted.
Also, think of the side of the frame as being triangular and having three sections. This will simplify painting the sides.
Another thing to notice is that the swimmie fabric doesn't particularly like to bond with the latex. As such, you are going to want to put six or seven layers over the fabric attached to the valve. Remember not to cover the valve under any circumstance. Air needs to be able to flow through!
Lastly, don't forget to coat each side in baby powder after you put on the forth layer of latex.
Step 16: Glue Glove to the Valve.
Even after putting 6 coats of latex over the swimmie fabric, there probably will still be seams in the gap between the canvas and the swimmie fabric. The best way to seal it is to clean off the baby powder using rubbing alcohol and then to glue on cut up latex gloves.
This is easily done by cutting latex gloves into long strips, cleaning them off with rubbing alcohol and applying rubber cement around the border between the swimmie and the canvas. Once the rubber cement is applied, then it is important to quickly seal the seam between with the cut up latex gloves until you are sure it is airtight.
Step 17: Turn the Frame Inside Out.
Push your arm through the spout and slowly, carefully and gently pull the inflatable heart tube through the spout. By the time you are done it should be inside out.
Step 18: Inflate! ...carefully
Get your air pump and carefully inflate your heart and see how it works. Check for any very noticeable leaks. See how it inflates. Relax if it does. If it doesn't and you can tell where it is leaking from, seal it with latex from the outside.
Step 19: Attach Tension Lines.
Cut as many 1 inch wide by 42 inch long canvas strips as you have handles on one side of the inflatable heart frame.
You see, these canvas strips pass through the handle on one side of the canvas heart and then pass through the corresponding handle on the other side of the inflatable heart. Pull both ends through the large air hole and lay them flat next to one another. Sew both ends together. Then fold them over and sew them again to reinforce the stitching. Do this for all the handles starting with the ones farthest from the large air spout and ending with the one closest.
Step 20: Reinforce Seams With Latex.
Once the tension lines are all attached inflate the heart once more and notice the difference they make. Keep it inflated by rolling up the air spout and taping it together in a rolled up position.
Now is the time to reinforce the air seal by painting along all seams and exposed stitching with two to three coats of liquid latex as appropriate. After the first coat look for air bubbles around the seams and apply thicker coats as necessary.
Step 21: Close the Heart's Frame!
Now is the time to seal the spout. Clean out the inside of the spout with rubbing alcohol. Inflate the heart as much as possible and apply a line of rubber cement as close to the seam as possible. Apply pressure and wait for it to dry. Repeat this step as close to the last glued line as possible until it is nice and air tight.
The next day when the rubber cement is dry then you should paint the spout closed with liquid latex so that it is definately air tight. Put in three or four coats.
Step 22: Finish the Decorative Cover.
Measure the height of your heart when it is fully inflated, add six inches, and then cut a length of fabric of that width, but long enough to fit around the perimeter of the heart.
Pin it face down along the border of your decorative cover so that the display side of both the cover and your fabric are touching. Sew this about 1/2 an inch in from the border.
When you are done, flip it inside out. Your decorative cover is complete. You can add a bottom and a zipper so that it hugs your chair on all side if you feel like wasting money. Otherwise just stick the cover over the chair and tuck the excess fabric underneath.
Step 23: Give It to Your Girlfriend.
Give it to your girlfriend (boyfriend... "good friend"...) and watch him or her recline on the all-consuming effort of your love.
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